Press Release
December 1, 2018

Hontiveros files bill seeking to prevent teenage pregnancies

The rising teenage pregnancy rate in the country has prompted Senator Risa Hontiveros to file a bill seeking to establish a national policy to prevent teenage pregnancies and introduce social protection programs for teenage parents.

Hontiveros, sponsor of Senate Bill 1888, otherwise known as the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act, said the proposed legislation also seeks to ensure that young mothers would get the necessary healthcare they need throughout their pregnancy.

Senate Bill No. 1888 is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 1154, or the Young Women's Refuge and Assistance Act filed by Senator Nancy Binay, and Senate Bill No. 1482, or the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act filed by Hontiveros.

The bill reiterates the importance of education in the prevention of teenage pregnancy and reminds educational institutions that suspension, expulsion, dismissal, or denial of admission to pregnant girls are prohibited. Hindering teenage parents' access to school only endangers them to drop out from school and risk repeat pregnancies.

Worldwide, Hontiveros said 16 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 years old give birth every year. In the Philippines, she said "young parents are getting even younger and growing in a number never seen before."

Results from a 2013 Demographic and Health survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that one in 10 young Filipino women aged 15 to 19 has begun childbearing: eight percent were already mothers and another two percent were pregnant with their first child.

The survey also showed that early pregnancy and motherhood varied by education, wealth and region. It was more common among young adult women aged 15 to 24 than among those with higher education (44 percent for women with elementary education against 21 percent for women with college education).

According to Hontiveros, young Filipinos are having earlier sexual initiations, usually unprotected. She cited a 2013 study on Adult Fertility and Sexuality which showed that 23 percent of Filipino youth were having sex before the age of 18.

"This bill has made measures to equip our children with the knowledge and guidance to make choices that they believe are the best for themselves," Hontiveros said.

Under the bill, a Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Council, composed of relevant national agencies and civil society organizations, will develop a national medium-term plan for the prevention of teenage pregnancy.

The bill also calls for the development of Information and Service Delivery Network for Adolescent Health Development (ISDN for AHD) in all provinces and chartered cities nationwide. The ISDN for AHD shall map and analyze the various factors contributing to pregnancies among adolescents at the regional and local levels; identify, harmonize, coordinate and implement inter-agency interventions to address the various issues related to teenage pregnancies in the region and the local level; generate or share resources in the implementation of the joint strategic plan of the ISDN for AHD and monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of coordinative and referral systems and other interagency interventions jointly implemented by the ISDN.

Strategies and programs aimed at preventing the incidence of teenage pregnancies shall also be integrated in the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) programs at the local and community level using the 10 percent of the SK funds.

The Department of Education (DepEd), with the assistance from the council and in collaboration with other relevant agencies, shall be required to develop and promote educational standards, modules and materials to promote a Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in schools, communities and other youth institutions.

Hontiveros said surveys on adolescent health and development shall be conducted every four years to assess and evaluate the current policies and strategies in the prevention of teen pregnancies.

"We want our children to be children and to actually have a childhood. It is our duty, not only as legislators, but also as parents, to equip them with the knowledge they need to navigate the new and seemingly vast terrain of puberty and reproductive health and to guide them as they grow into adulthood that is not jarred by expectations of parenthood," Hontiveros said.

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